It's been a month and a half since Scott Darling was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, and that's also how long it's taken the former Blackhawks netminder to formulate his thoughts to say a proper goodbye to Chicago.
And it was worth the wait.
In a lengthy, emotional piece written for The Players' Tribune, the Lemont native opened up about getting his life back on track after hitting rock bottom, his journey to the NHL, and getting a call from his agent on the day of Darling's three-year anniversary of sobriety saying that there's a deal in place to sign with his hometown Blackhawks, only to win a Stanley Cup with them 11 months later.
Here's an excerpt from the article, reminiscing about his debut with the Blackhawks and the memorable outing from Game 1 against the Nashville Predators in 2015:
When I was in fourth grade, my teacher asked the class to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote, “I want to play goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks.” My grandparents still have the sheet of paper at their house.
I remember I was standing in the crease during the national anthem, and I was looking up into the rafters at all the banners, and I had this crazy flashback to every team I ever played for — to standing in the crease and looking up into the rafters of every tiny barn that I played in along the way. Except this time, I was doing it at the United Center, where I had come as a kid with my dad.
I don’t remember anything about the game. I blacked out on adrenaline. I just know that I played well and we won 2–1. After the game, I was taking my gear off, and I thought, Alright, that’s it. If you never play again, you can die happy.
I played 13 more regular season games as the backup. When we got to the playoffs, our first round opponent was … who else?
The Nashville Predators.
I didn’t think I’d get a chance to play. Then in Game 1 they scored 3 goals in the first period, and I was sitting there kind of peering down the end of the bench at Coach Q, just like out of the corner of my eye.
Is he looking at me?
We went into the locker room at intermission and Q marched right in and the first thing he said was, “Darls, you’re going in.”
I was going to play a playoff game for the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena against the Nashville Predators.
And then I literally puked.
I went straight into the bathroom and threw up right in the toilet.
And then I came back out and I looked around the room at Toews and Kaner and Seabs and Duncs and I was ready to roll.
'How the f--k did I get here?' Darling attempts to explain it all here.